December 09, 2005
Final Project - Ammon
Well, here it is, in all it's glory.
December 01, 2005
Wikipedia is no good.... says he.
Posted by ashephe1 at 10:07 AM
November 28, 2005
Wiki - Ammon
I started out not quite knowing what to do. So in true hypertext fashion, I bounced around from link to link until I found a link to a person with no entry. I created a brand new entry for that person. It's not much, information wise.
Posted by ashephe1 at 11:17 AM
November 21, 2005
Public History - Ammon
Why, you may ask, does HistoryWired beat Julia Child's Kitchen? Well, don't ask. I just picked one. But I will tell you why and how I feel HistoryWired uses new media most effectively. So here it goes... HistoryWired is like the ultimate time line. What I really liked was the interactivity with the time line, the categories, and the images and short descriptions that went along with the myriad of squares. Not only do you get a pop up window with a title and short description, but yellow lines link the object back to a number of categories, and a bar appears on the time line to ensure that the user is able to place the object in time. When the categories are clicked, then all of the squares below light up to show they match. The time line's ends can be changed to incorporate a more selective period of history, and the objects outside this time frame are darkened, leaving only the applicable objects viewable. There's a short description of only a few of the neat-o things this site does to incorporate new media. A check mark in the square you just visited reminds you what you have already seen, and helps you organize your search through the large amount of objects. The main reason I feel this site provides an effective way to use new media, is because other forms of displaying an objects' relation to time and other objects are not as easily viewed, categorized and automatically displayed as they are with this site.
Posted by ashephe1 at 05:31 PM
November 15, 2005
Digital Classroom - Ammon
I think digital media is still in the infant stages of teaching usage, and as such is caught in a middle point as to what it has done and what it can do. To be uncharacteristically short for a historian, I think digital media has added no real new dimension to teaching and learning. On the other hand, I don't feel that the full potential for digital media has been reached. I shall explain (in true, long-winded historian fashion in the 'Extended Entry').
First off, I think the affect of digital media will have a similar impact on the field of history as with other fields. For the purpose of this post, I had K-12 teaching and learning in mind.
I don't think digital media has added anything new to teaching and learning. It seems to me that anything that can be done with media of the digital persuasion, can and has been done with conventional forms of media (pictures, movies, slides, film strips – a personal favorite, et.). In effect, it is my belief that digital media, as we know it today (and bits of yesterday, too), is basically another teaching and learning tool, not unlike what we already have. Examples: A student goes to a web page (the principle form of digital media) to learn more about subject X. The student is presented with words, pictures, and if the budget was big enough, interactive games and movies. These things were already available. Said student could open a text book and find words and pictures. The teacher could provide a movie or film strip (my personal favorite). The student could interact with fellow students (wo, can they do that nowadays?) and play a game. All with relatively the same level of teaching and learning quality. I admit that there are some blatant generalities in my analysis, but this is pretty much off the top of my head, and not a detailed research here. I've thought about it, but nay the less, off the top of my head.
While digital media may not provide much new, I do believe that it has the extreme potential to benefit in ways other media cannot. As in all things, it must be used in moderation and with wisdom. The surveys and research being done about the use of technology in teaching and learning is the necessary step in determining how best to apply digital media. An example of good use of digital media (in this case a very interactive computer program used at a K-12 school). I worked at this school where I was able to observe the results in the reading skills of students before and after using the computer program for an extended period of time. The program was set up for students who had problems reading at their grade level. They would be taken out of class for 10-20 minutes each day to 'play' this game on the computer. With nary an exception, each student improved their reading because of this digital media. With proper usage, such as vaguely described, digital media can have a great impact on learning and teaching.
Anyhow, in a historian nutshell, that's how I think digital media has and will have an affect on teaching and learning history.
[The above was written as such with total awareness and apprehension that someone, somewhere, would actually read it.]
November 14, 2005
Validate your HTML and CSS
Get your code validated here. I couldn't find one for rating your site for the disabled, so that can go in a comment here if someone finds it.
World Wide Web Consortium
Posted by ashephe1 at 08:24 PM
November 07, 2005
Archives/Research - Ammon
I decided to look at The National Security Archive (NSA) hosted by George Washington University. This archive intrigued me at first because it is simply a collection of declassified documents from the U.S. Government. Also interesting is that each of these documents had to be individually requested from the Government under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Getting to the website was about as long as my enthusiasm lasted....
While the idea sounded really cool, "Wow, a bunch of declassified documents. What juicy goodies are therein to behold.....?" It turned out to be much drier than I expected. The main purpose of this assignment was to devise a research and writing project using this archive that can't be done with a normal print archive. In this respect I fail. Maybe my imagination is running a little dry today, but the NSA was just a collection of reviews and research about the documents on file. The one aspect that is made easier with the web site, is the search tool. This, like normal search tools, allows you to search for an 'exact phrase,' 'all words,' or 'any words' within the documents available. This would be a bit strenuous in a print archive, but was the only thing I could find which would make research through this archive easier.
The layout of the site is not extraordinarily difficult. A menu at the top provides a constant link to the different aspects of the site. The links on the left side menu lead to pages with a different color scheme, which at first was confusing. The documents available on the site are interspersed with quite a bit of explanation, or are linked within an NSA researcher's paper. A few of the projects were simply a list of documents, images, or microfiche that are only available in their library on the campus of GWU. The main structure is laid out in world regions, with most projects providing links to related studies and further documents relevant to the topic.
Posted by ashephe1 at 05:17 PM
October 29, 2005
Digital Project Proposal - Ammon
Collection tool and gathering place for oral histories.
While any field of historical research is a potential target for this project, I would like to focus on an area of German history that has had little scholarly coverage. Germany has a long historical involvement with religion. Beginning with Charlemagne's forced application of Christianity and his reign with the Holy Roman Empire in the late 8th and early 9th Centuries, continuing with the Catholic Reformations of Martin Luther in the 16th Century, and including the horrifying Holocaust against the Jews in the 20th Century, Germany has played a part in many global changing events relating to religion.
After World War II, Germany became a divided nation with differing stances on religion. Whereas West Germany became relatively free and democratic, East Germany became just as regulated and censored as they had been under the National Socialists. After the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), and the dust from WWII had settled, West Germans were able to move freely about Europe and the world, openly criticize their government, and freely practice most any form of religion they chose. The same was not true for East Germans in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Communist government that had taken control through the help of the occupying Soviets, enacted restrictions that were eerily similar to the fascists of Nazi Germany they claimed to despise. This project will endeavor to collect the stories of religious people in East Germany and pull together a general narrative of how they lived their religious lives despite the restrictions placed on them by their government.
This project will collect, review, and organize oral histories and relevant documents and research relating to religious laws and religious society in the former German Democratic Republic. This project is innovative and important because very little research has been done in this area. Collecting oral histories will ensure that first hand accounts will be safely recorded while the people who experienced this time period are still alive. Providing a central location for historical documents and research done in this field will benefit future researchers of this topic. While the subject of religion in East Germany is very broad, it is my hope to refine the topic, after sufficient gathering of data, to a specific religious community, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, within the GDR.
Many oral history collections are done by personally interviewing someone and recording the response on paper, tape recorder, or video recorder. This site will allow interviews to take place in a 'virtual' setting. Potential interviewees will go to a web site and fill out a survey by typing in their answer or recording their voice and/or video responses to the survey questions. The technology is easily accomplished using Macromedia's Flash Communication Server. The voice and video application can be built into the survey so as to be used if the interviewee is able and would like to use it. Otherwise the answers can simply be input using text areas, check boxes, radio buttons, etc.
The greatest challenge will be spreading the word about the availability, purpose and hopes of the site sufficiently to provide an acceptable amount of feed back. This will hopefully be done by recruiting involvement through personal contacts with former GDR citizens, German Universities or students interested in this field of study, and possible collaboration with churches in Germany.
Posted by ashephe1 at 10:19 AM
October 25, 2005
More photo programs
I recently stumbled upon this program. It looks to be somewhat more user friendly than a full blown Photoshop, but can still do some neat things. Plus it's free.
It was developed by Washington State University students and mentored by Microsoft. It works only on Windows 2000/XP.
October 24, 2005
Hypertext isn't how I wanted it to be.
A recent Slashdot article addresses how the creator of hypertext laments the course it has taken.
BBC article of the same.
Posted by ashephe1 at 07:40 PM
Digital Scholarship - Ammon
The promise of digital scholarship, and how it was met by two online articles. A short essay by Ammon Shepherd.
In reviewing Los Angeles and the Problem of Urban Historical Knowledge , and From Hogan's Alley to Coconino County: Four Narratives of the Early Comic Strip, it becomes clear that the development of digital scholarship, at the very least in the way of presentation, has not come far in the past five years. While the content of these essay-sites shoots par, the design scores much higher than a double bogey [to lightly use a golf analogy].
As previously discussed in class, a good quality website is made up of at least two factors, good content and good design. A 'scholarly' website must likewise employ these same two elements. A piece of 'digital scholarship' seems to imply a bit more than just good content and good design, though. As David Staley discussed his views on the 'virtual reality' that would eventually evolve from combining history and computers, he evoked a vision that historical works would soon include a similar interaction and involvement found in todays computer and video games. Staley's descriptions of the historical field of the future only lightly touch on scholarship produced for the World Wide Web, but they do include, therein, his ideas that these historical sites will be interactive, communal, and provide some sort of virtual reality. The sites I reviewed proved to be in varying nascent stages of Staley's virtual reality world of history. Generally websites contain two visual aspects, text and media in the form of still images, video, and audio. Digital scholarship is how well these visual aspects are interwoven into the scholarship the author is trying to portray.
Both of the sites reviewed included helpful introductions as to what to expect on their site. I was pleasantly surprised to see the foresight each author had to realize their works were not the same as a printed book, and as such would be viewed much differently. Both sites included a statement which acknowledged, and even encouraged, the viewer to peruse the contents in any manner they chose. While a single and complete essay had been written, in the case of the Los Angeles site, Philip Ethington, the author, states that the pictures, maps, and other aspects should be viewed in which ever sequence the viewer chooses. “But readers can also disregard the Essay altogether,” Ethington encourages, “because it is not essential to the site – only one of its elements” (Preface). Similarly, the Comic Strip site suggests that the contents can be reviewed by looking through the index of images and the accompanying text. Completely aware that allowing the viewer to 'choose his own adventure' may alter the meaning of the site, David Westbrook offers the following statement about his chronological index of thumbnail images:
“If this fourth thread succeeds in creating the impression that the strips are speaking for themselves in their own language, then I hope it will have made a gesture toward the same sort of deflation of pretension that cartoon characters have been effecting for over a century. While the scholars talk, the comics thumb their collective nose and follow their own path.”
While the authors are aware of the 'digitalness' of their scholarship, and make a valiant attempt to incorporate forms of new media in their sites, they fall short of the ideals of David Staley. Ethington's site on urban history in Los Angeles comes a the viewer a smidgen harsh at first with a large collage of images on the home page, the stark and eye jarring white text on black, and continuously changing images on the preface page. Ethington incorporates a multitude of images, detailed and somewhat interactive maps, and a few videos depicting a drive down Los Angeles streets. Although much is display, nothing much 'new' is used. The site is a good show of mostly stationary media, but does not incorporate the virtual reality spoken of by David Staley.
Westbrook offers even less in the form of 'new media.' While his content is documented with numerous resources and other aspects of a scholarly work, thus achieving the 'scholarship' of 'digital scholarship', Westbrook does not offer anything thing that couldn't be had in print form. One of the 'digital' tools found on the site is the chronology of images used througout the site. While this is helpful in looking at the argument from a different perspective, it is not something attainable solely in digital format.
Posted by ashephe1 at 05:34 PM
October 11, 2005
Web Review Essay - Ammon
Here it is. My web review essay. Be kind, I'm no graphic artist... but the code is solid!
Posted by ashephe1 at 07:17 PM
October 03, 2005
Learning HTML and CSS
A pretty good site for learning the basics of HTML and CSS is W3Schools.com. I use this site a lot still to reference particular issues.
It's laid out as a tutorial type deal. Hope it helps you as well.
Posted by ashephe1 at 07:37 PM
September 30, 2005
Web Design - Ammon
Well, where to begin.....
First off, I'd like to add an OK site to the list. It happens to be the site where I found the three above. While looking for the best history sites, I figured I might find the worst as well. So I searched for "history" and found a link to the "best history sites" on the net. The site itself is decent, and it does have a pretty neat list of sites (I found all of the above from there). That's BestHistorySites.net incase the other link wasn't noticed. :)
Anyhow, the good was good because it is well laid out. You can get to any aspect of the site from any page you are on (ie, the navigation works well, and is well accessible). The color scheme is nice, text on background is easy to read. Just well done.
The bad and ugly suffer from similar ailments. They both employ the "put everything on one long page with no side by side column type of layout" technique. This is common among beginner and novice web page creators. Heck, I probably did the same with mine so many moons ago. Another problem faced by new commers (and portraid beautifully by the ugly site) is the "use a repeated image for the background" error. That's just not a very good practice. It's hard to read the text on such images, and it takes away from the other aspects of the site.
Anyhow, I've tried to keep things nice and clean on my site. Everything is well spaced, the menu is available throughout, there are only a few colors, which are consistent, etc.. (this is of course only talking about the part of my site after the GMU in the URL).
Anyhow, that's what I seen!
Posted by ashephe1 at 08:35 PM
September 26, 2005
The Future of Historical Narrative - Ammon
1. Bill Cronon calls his essay "A Place for Stories." What is the story that Cronon tells in his essay?
William Cronon's story is about the place of stories in historical research. Stories, or narratives, deeply impact our telling of history. History can not be told without story. History written as a list of events or chronology have little meaning for humans. We need not a list of what happened and when, but a story or narrative to make an otherwise incoherent chronology into something meaningful. A historical fact is just a mere string or thread of existence, it takes a narrative to weave that thread among others to create a tapestry, to create an image that is recognizable, understandable, and meaningful to the human mind.
Historical writings follow closely the narrative path of other literary venues. Cronon shows that historical plots seem to follow two major lines of literary convention, 'progressive' or 'declensionist.' The progressive story is an upward moving, ever increasing and ever more positive story were the protagonist starts as the underdog and ends up on top. The declension story is the opposite, a downward movement, a lineal digression of positive elements towards negative hopelessness. (7)
As in literary works, the historical narrative is greatly influenced by the choice of protagonist. Ranging from the individual (a single pioneer or settler family), to the group (the plains farmers in general), to the broad and encompassing (civilization, man). Who the story is about will have a great affect on how the story is told.
Cronon defends the position that storytelling affects not only the way we look on a historical topic, but also impacts the outcome of future events. In recounting the efforts by the US government to control the disastrous situations caused by the Dust Bowl, Cronon found that the New Deal planners argued that the 'progressive' storytelling of the past not only falsely portrayed the Great Plains, but was the cause of the disasters of the 1930's. In effect, claims Cronon and the New Deal planners, "bad storytelling had wreaked havoc with the balance of nature" (16).
Another important factor in the historical narrative is how the author begins and ends the story. "Where one chooses to begin and end a story profoundly alters its shape and meaning...refram[ing] the past so as to include certain events and people, exclude others, and redefine meaning of landscape accordingly" (19). Where the story begins or ends, greatly limits the quality of the story to be told.
Cronon, in the last third of his essay, finally delves into the reasoning why narratives are so important to humans. Stories are a uniquely human invention consisting of beginning, middle, and end. What gives a story its power is our ability as humans to compartmentalize natural events, or events in our experience of life, into narratives with a beginning, middle, and end, and thereafter, to learn a lesson from it to gain understanding. For this reason, Cronon argues, narratives and storytelling are an important part of historical research. The story provides a way for humans to debate, think, and ponder about humans interaction with nature and their own struggles with personal values.
Posted by ashephe1 at 07:37 AM
September 23, 2005
Review Essay Proposal - Ammon
My review essay will focus on web sites that cover the development of the technology that led us into the space age.
The development of the rocket really took off (excuse the pun) in Germany towards the end of World War II. Through the combined efforts of the Nazi Luftwaffe (Airfoce) and Army (Armee), Germany took the lead in researching and producing large rockets. While these rockets were used for destructive purposes, it was their inventors and the knowledge gained in their creation that moved the United States into the position where they were able to land the first man on the moon.
I would like to review web sites that look at this history: the birth of the rocket in Nazi Germany to the monumental footsteps placed on the moon. I would like to focus as much as I can on Wernher von Braun and his intimate involvement throughout this whole time period. The list of sites, so far, are linked below:
German site about Peenemunde where German's conducted research on first rockets.
V2rakete.de Another German site focusing on the V2 Rocket developed at Peenemunde.
The above list contains government sites (NASA, Smithsonian Institute), a commercial site (Space.com), and private historical sites (all of the others).
September 19, 2005
Website Evaluation - Ammon - Sept. 19, 2005
Playing on the common theme that a historian is a detective of times past, the DoHistory.org site offers the visitor the oportunity to 'play the detective.'
Encompassing the intriguing time period after the formation of the United States of America to a few decades into the following Century, the online diary of a common midwife, Martha Ballard, is presented in a fashion that allows the visitor to peruse, discover and explain for themself a 'mystery' and solution found therein. Incorporating basically four different activities, the site offers the visitor the oportunity to look at actual images of the diary, read the online version of a book written about the diary, view a movie based on the diary, and complete two activities that show the vistor how to be a historical detective.
The content of the site includes the online version of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's book based on the diary, A Midwifes Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary 1785-1812. This online book contains competent and coherent analysis on the life and times of this early frontier town, based on Martha Ballard's diary. What's more, Ulrich discusses the importance of the journals hidden stories that have been overlooked by other historians.
The site seems to be intended for high school level and above audiences. While designating a school level, it is by no means limited to educational use. The casual history buff interested in this time period, as well as the historian seeking for innovative and clever ideas for presenting history, would greatly benefit from a perusal of this site.
Available in both book and web form, the journal of Martha Ballard and the book about the journal by Laurel Ulrich are enriched and enhanced by the DoHistory.org site. Visual and interactive applications make the visitor feel apart of the discovery of Martha Ballard's life. The site uses Java applets, QuickTime movies, and unique instances of HTML (forms/input boxes in the activity of transcribing) to provide an instructive and engaging journey into Martha Ballard's life.
Posted by ashephe1 at 06:59 AM
Website - Ammon
Class web page. I've relocated my class web page. I just bought a new domain, so I moved it there.
September 05, 2005
Ammon's miserable failure
I did terrible in this scavenger hunt. I only found three, and that was after I decided not to try and find them in order any more (after the first 5 minutes). I'm more of a liesure searcher.... I need time to browse, look around, follow links, etc.
Anyhow, here's what I did find.
10. The full text of the article in which Karl Jacoby says "Although I worry about turning the survey into little more than highbrow entertainment and students into passive consumers, having slides has in fact created new opportunities for student exchange."
Not all exactly what I expected, but I guess that's what I get for going into this assignment with such a cocky attitude. I might know a lot about building web pages, but searching them is a different skill. One I need to learn. :)
August 29, 2005
This is myself
Height: 6 feet.
Weight: 141 lbs.
Eye Color: brown
Hair Color: brown
Marital Status: Great
Offspring: 2 (1 boy, 1 girl)
Purpose in Life: Please spouse and play with kids.
I've lived my whole life in Arizona, in the same house, except for two years. Those two years I lived in Germany as a missionary for my Church. I was married in 2000 to the mostest bestest gal in the world (of course)! We had our first child in 2002, a really cool kid we named Jonas Ammon Wade Shepherd (because his initials spell JAWS). Then in 2004 we added a little girl to the mix, and named her January Edel Shepherd (Edel is German for precious, and she is).
I received my first two BA's at Arizona State University in History and German. I'm aspiring to become a History professor, focusing on 20th Century German history, specifically post-WWII until Re-unification of West and East Germany. My main focus at GMU is History and New Media, so I took this class as soon as I could.